Comair withdraws retrenchment process following CCMA consultation

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According to NUMSA, Comair wanted to cut salaries by 15% and reduce the medical aid benefit.
According to NUMSA, Comair wanted to cut salaries by 15% and reduce the medical aid benefit.
  • After a CCMA consultation, Comair decided to withdraw a retrenchment process started in March this year.
  • Comair operates its own and local British Airways flights under a licence agreement.
  • The union Numsa claims a collective bargaining process would be a better option.

Comair has decided to halt a retrenchment process kicked off in March, but says it still needs to find ways to reduce staff and costs in order to remain sustainable.

Comair, which is currently in business rescue, operates its own low-cost airline as well as British Airways domestically under a licence agreement.

After a consultation at the CCMA last week, the Commissioner advised that he did not believe a section 189A retrenchment process was the most appropriate to follow to achieve the changes that Comair wished to implement. Accordingly, Comair decided to withdraw these proceedings.

"Unfortunately, the harsh realities of the industry have not changed and the company will still need to achieve the necessary staff and other cost reductions in order for the business to remain sustainable," Comair told Fin24 on Friday. It will be looking at other ways to reduce staff cost rather than reducing headcount.

According to the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa), workers at Comair have already made huge sacrifices in order to save the company and turn it around. 

"They have endured more than a year on reduced salaries. Their salaries were cut by at least a 30%, and all benefits have been slashed," the union said in a statement on Friday.

Numsa says correspondence from Comair indicates that there is still a need to restructure the conditions of employment that places the organisation at risk. The collective bargaining process could be one such option.

According to Numsa, Comair wanted to cut salaries by 15% and reduce the medical aid benefit. The union, however, argued that such changes fell under the collective bargaining process.

In March this year, the SA Civil Aviation Authority suspended Comair flights for five days after what it called "a series of incidents". In December last year the Competition Tribunal approved FirstRand Bank's acquisition of Comair's airport lounges in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban to get a much needed cash injection.

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